A number of top-notch Asian American performers would start their careers at the famed Forbidden City nightclub on the outskirts of San Francisco Chinatown. When it opened in 1938, it was one of the first and only venues in which Asian Americans could dance and sing. The inimitable Jadin Wong would get her start performing here. Wong, who was born in 1913, began dancing at the age of five and ran away from home at 17 to pursue her showbiz dream. She began headlining as a dancer at the Forbidden City in 1938. Her brassy wit, showgirl glam, and captivating dancing would make her a national sensation, landing her a feature in Life magazine and inspiring the role of Madame Liang in Flower Drum Song.
During World War II, Wong performed for the troops, even jumping out of a plane going down in German territory and sneaking through the Black Forest to make her evening performance with Bob Hope for one performance. At the China Doll nightclub in New York City, she became the first female Asian American performer. Later in her career, she would eventually transition to comedy and Asian talent management. An unstoppable firecracker of a personality, Jadin Wong not only defied stereotypes to pave the way for Asian American entertainers but actively dedicated the rest of her career to supporting emerging Asian American talent until her passing in March 2010 at the age of 96.